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Food and Mood

Tuesday 7 May, 2019

The food we eat can have a profound impact on our mood and mental health. Rates of mental illness are increasing with 1 in 5 Australians having a condition such as depression or anxiety. It is important to know what impact diet can have on your mind and mood both positively and negatively.

Ensuring you are receiving all the required nutrients including vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats is the first step to ensuring you are providing your body and mind with the essential tools it needs to function and thrive. The easiest way to ensure you are meeting your requirements is to eat nutrient dense foods, these include fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean meats and fish, low fat dairy, beans and legumes. Eating a wide variety of each will ensure you are taking in a broad range of nutrients. This is compared to consuming nutrient poor foods including highly processed, refined, take-away foods which provide little nutritional value, meaning you won’t be reaching your nutrient targets and won’t be fueling your body and mind adequately.

Maintaining stable energy levels throughout the day, rather than having large energy spikes and large falls, can positively impact mood. Stable energy levels can be achieved through consumption of low glycaemic index (GI) foods. These foods are digested slower than high GI foods and therefore are released slowly into your bloodstream and muscle over time. High GI foods are broken down quickly, providing a large spike in energy levels, this is accompanied by a big fall, often leaving people tired and potentially worsening mental health symptoms. Low GI foods include wholegrains, wholegrain breads and cereals, most fruits and vegetables with the skin on, dairy, beans and legumes. High GI foods include highly refined carbohydrates including white bread, refined white grains, low-fibre cereals, foods with high amounts of added sugar, highly processed take-away foods.

Some stimulants can also negatively effect mood and mental health. Caffeine and alcohol may provide a temporary positive impact by increasing specific neurotransmitters which may be lacking and improve mood. However, with high intake, a person can become less sensitive to these neurotransmitters produced by the brain, therefore needing higher and higher amounts of stimulants to provide a positive effect on mood and feeling worse when not consuming these stimulants. Having a moderate intake of both caffeine and alcohol can be part of a balanced diet but excess or regular consumption can affect mood and mental health.

Overall, dietary intake has a big impact on mood and mental health, it can act to help or hinder. Eating a wide variety of nutrient dense, low GI whole foods while limiting highly refined, processed foods and stimulants will assist in stabilizing energy levels over the day and ensuring your body has the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients to thrive.

Get in touch to learn more about food and mood or any other nutrition related information.


Fuel Your Life is a nation-wide Dietetic company focusing on Veteran health and nutrition. We have specific Veteran nutrition programs which are bulk-billed for Gold and White card holders and offer in clinic or home visits. Areas we can assist with include weight management, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease, sports nutrition, mental health and pain management.


Danielle Rodger, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Business Development Officer, Area Manager (Adelaide) Fuel Your Life
Ph: 0490 542 715

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